HomeSoftware EngineeringRight here’s The way to Scale Up Effectivity in Scaled-Up Agile

Right here’s The way to Scale Up Effectivity in Scaled-Up Agile

At the moment’s weblog publish is from Ken Rubin, writer of the Amazon greatest vendor, Important Scrum. Right here Ken presents us seven methods for decreasing or eliminating the impression of dependencies on giant agile tasks.

I’ve identified and labored with Ken for over 20 years and study one thing from him each time we work together. I’m positive you’ll discover his ideas fascinating.


Does your group carry out agile at scale, requiring the coordination of a number of collaborating entities to ship worth? In that case, you recognize that to achieve success at scale you should construction for the regular motion of labor throughout the assorted collaborating entities. In different phrases, it’s essential obtain good circulation by avoiding idle or blocked work. On this regard, dependencies are the primary killer of an organization’s capacity to construction for circulation when performing agile at scale.

Structural and Instantiated Dependencies

A dependency is a relationship between two or extra actions or sources that requires a degree of coordination to attain desired circulation. Steadily organizations have structured themselves in a method that cross-entity dependencies are woven into the material of the group. I consult with most of these dependencies as structural dependencies.

Let’s say UX designs are at all times executed by the UX crew and any time my crew wants a design we should go to the UX crew. On this situation, my crew has a structural dependency on the UX crew.

If my crew makes 50 separate requests of the UX crew for various designs (“We want a design for the brand new sign-up display screen!”), then every of these particular person requests for a selected design represents an instantiated dependency.

For these with a technical background, consider the structural dependencies as representing object lessons and instantiated dependencies as cases of these lessons. So, the precise request to have the UX crew design the brand new sign-up display screen is an occasion of the structural dependency that exists between my crew and the UX crew.

Now think about if my crew had UX expertise on it and was now not depending on the UX crew for design work. The outcome could be the elimination of the structural dependency between my crew and the UX crew. Eliminating a structural dependency has an amplifying impact as a result of it additionally eliminates all future instantiated dependencies between my crew and the UX crew. In apply this implies my crew won’t ever have to attend for the UX crew to make us something. The best dependency to handle is the one you don’t have!

Structural Dependencies Kill Circulation

In my expertise, the big variety of structural dependencies in organizations is the first reason for poor circulation. We will use circulation metrics similar to circulation effectivity (ratio of value-adding time to whole elapsed time) and circulation time (how lengthy it takes to finish a piece merchandise) to quantify the impression of dependencies on circulation.

In organizations which have executed the modeling, we incessantly verify circulation effectivity to be 10% or much less. Meaning idle/blocked time represents 90% of the whole time an merchandise is taken into account In Progress! And solely 10% of the whole time is value-adding time. Even a modest (say 15%) enchancment in circulation effectivity has a big return on funding. Squeeze 15% of the waste out of the 90% idle/blocked time and also you get a 13.5% general enchancment in circulation effectivity. On a 15-week effort, a 13.5% enchancment in circulation effectivity would cut back circulation time by simply over two weeks and we’d have the work merchandise accomplished at 13 weeks as an alternative of 15 weeks.

How do you squeeze out the waste and get essentially the most vital enchancment in circulation at scale? Cut back the variety of structural dependencies within the surroundings.

Bear in mind, every structural dependency we get rid of means each future manifestation of that dependency (its instantiated dependencies) can be eradicated. You’ll discover I mentioned cut back the variety of structural dependencies. Organizations will be unable to get rid of all structural dependencies, so simply set your sights on minimizing them.

Structural Dependency Enchancment Framework

In my work with many giant shoppers, I’ve developed and advanced a structural dependency enchancment framework comprised of seven methods.

Structural Dependency Improvement Framework

These methods may be categorized as:

  • Reducers – cut back the variety of structural dependencies
  • Enablers – allow organizations to undertake reducer methods extra simply
  • Coordinator – establishes pre-defined coordination for these structural dependencies that may’t be eradicated
  • Simplifier – makes it simpler to take care of instantiated dependencies for these structural dependencies that may’t be eradicated

Right here’s a fast abstract of the methods on this framework.

Reducer Methods

  1. Create Function Groups. Bear in mind the sooner instance after we moved UX expertise onto my crew? That’s an instance of this technique, which is by far the commonest of the seven methods. The truth is, some individuals would declare that if a corporation simply created all function groups, then there wouldn’t be a dependency downside.

    Creating function groups does considerably cut back the variety of structural dependencies within the surroundings. Nonetheless, there are impediments like inadequate expertise capability that may nearly actually stop your group from creating all function groups. You need to create function groups wherever sensible, and make use of the opposite reducer methods within the framework.

  2. Manage into Coordinated Ecosystems. Right here’s how I outline a coordinated ecosystem:

    An encapsulated, cross-organizational set of aligned sources created to ship the outcomes of a sturdy, customer-focused product, worth stream, enterprise functionality, or buyer journey.

    Coordinated ecosystems are an important organizing unit for performing agile at scale. The alignment of sources inside a single ecosystem—guided by a single product proprietor—considerably reduces structural dependencies and simplifies prioritization of every instantiated dependency.

  3. Architect for Self Service. This implies to allow a build-using coordination mannequin. On this mannequin, my crew can full its work with out having to rely in your crew as a result of your crew gives the mechanisms for my crew to do the work ourselves.

Enabler Methods (assist facilitate the adoption of the reducer methods)

  1. Attempt for Cross-Practical and T-Formed. The attribute of being fully cross-functional (i.e., having all the talents to get the job executed) is a requirement of each function groups and coordinated ecosystems, and simplifies self-service approaches. T-Shaping the talents of individuals inside a crew reduces structural dependencies that exist inside that crew, along with making the crew extra resilient when one thing goes fallacious. 
  2. Set up Communities of Apply (typically known as facilities of excellence, chapters, or guilds). Communities of Apply assist overcome organizational resistance to establishing cross-functional groups and coordinated ecosystems by addressing issues surrounding lack of conceptual integrity, reuse, shared learnings, and so forth.

Coordinator Technique (since not all structural dependencies may be eradicated, we need to cut back the coordination effort of the remaining dependencies)

Set up Crew-to-Crew Working Agreements. These agreements pre-define how instantiated dependencies between the groups might be dealt with by addressing subjects similar to: consumption course of, decisioning course of, interplay course of, SLA (or cycle-time expectation), and deliverable-related metrics.

Simplifier Technique

Stability System/Portfolio WIP. Mainly, if we keep away from overwhelming the groups with work, we cut back the variety of dependencies they need to take care of at anyone time. We additionally cut back the variety of several types of dependencies they need to deal with on the identical time. This technique leverages the methods of Agile Portfolio Administration to steadiness WIP (work in progress) in opposition to the structural capability of the group.

Bringing It All Collectively

If you wish to struggle again in opposition to dependencies, you will need to mix the structural dependency framework methods in a method that matches your group. In most organizations the place we apply it, we use all seven methods to considerably enhance circulation when doing agile at scale.

If you need to study extra about dependencies and the main points of the structural dependency enchancment framework, think about attending my class Dependencies Are Killing Your Agility: Be taught to Combat Again!



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